CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket set to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is ready for the mating of Starliner to the top of the launch vehicle.
On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.
Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.
In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.
News 6 interviewed Boeing’s Chris Ferguson on Saturday about the status of the company’s effort to launch its Starliner commercial crew vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) this year:
“We have an uncrewed test flight here in September. It’s looking very good. We were working late into the night last night doing test work, 24/7 operations,” Ferguson said. “We are in the final push and I’m optimistic that you’re going to see humans return to space from the Space Coast within the next several months. It’s been a long time.”
After the uncrewed test flight, Boeing will also need to complete a launch abort test with the spacecraft before it can launch astronauts. During the abort test, ULA will launch the capsule and trigger an abort, which will send the capsule away from the rocket testing the system designed to carry the astronauts to safety.
Ferguson will pilot Starliner, with NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Mike Fincke, to the space station on its first crewed test flight.
“I’ve learned to not count my chickens early but I’m optimistic this year is going to be a very good year for the Boeing team,” Ferguson said.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have agreed to extend the duration of the company’s first crewed flight test to the International Space Station after completing an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems. NASA found the long-duration flight to be technically feasible and in the best interest of the agency’s needs to ensure continued access and better utilization of the orbiting laboratory.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.
Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Video Caption: During a recent visit to Johnson Space Center, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sat down with astronauts Chris Ferguson and Sunita “Suni” Williams for an informal Q&A session about the Commercial Crew Program.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has worked with several American aerospace industry companies to facilitate the development of U.S. human spaceflight systems since 2010. Both Ferguson and Williams were selected to fly on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner for the Commercial Crew Program – marking the first time that American astronauts will launch to the International Space Station from American soil on American-made spacecraft since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011.
To watch specific portions of the Q&A about the future of human space exploration, use these timestamp:
2:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about what he has been doing since it was announced that he is a member of the Commercial Crew Program 3:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson explains why his flight suit says Boeing and not NASA 4:27 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about what a day in the life of an astronaut is like and what she has been up to since she was selected for the Commercial Crew program 6:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about how the Starliner is different from the Space Shuttle 7:30 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about how is the Starliner is similar to and different from the Soyuz 8:32 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about how many people the Starliner will be able to carry to the International Space Station 9:20 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the future of space exploration for NASA 10:58 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about her previous spaceflights and how her Commercial Crew flight will be different 12:20 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about their experience landing in space vehicles 15:20 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine and astronaut Chris Ferguson discuss thermal protection to keep astronauts safe 17:30 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the components of the Space Launch System and how it compares to technology for avionics 18:55 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson discusses how flying tests in the U.S. Navy prepared them for their upcoming missions 20:28 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson discusses what it’s like to dock the Starliner 21:30 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about training, automation and providing input to Boeing about the Starliner 22:30 – Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams talk about the team of individuals who make human spaceflight possible 24:45 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the preparations that go into space exploration missions 25:46 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about NASA’s launch capabilities 26:52 – Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams provide guidance to Administrator Jim Bridenstine as he docks the Boeing Starliner simulator
Targeted to launch in April 2019 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Bob Behnken is from St. Ann, Missouri. He has a doctorate in engineering, is a flight test engineer, and Colonel in the Air Force. He joined the astronaut corps in 2000, and flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour twice – for the STS-123 and STS-130 missions, during which he performed six spacewalks, for a total of more than 37 hours.
Doug Hurley calls Apalachin, New York, his hometown. He was a test pilot in the Marine Corps before coming to NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut. He achieved the rank of Colonel in the Marine Corps and piloted space shuttle Endeavor for STS-127, and Atlantis for STS-135 – the final space shuttle mission.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Boeing is evaluating the flight deck designs for its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as development work continues toward the final layout of the seating and control panels.
Former astronaut Chris Ferguson, now deputy program manager and director of Crew and Mission Operations for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, is performing the tests that look into a number of factors of comfort and usability for the systems.
The Starliner is being developed by Boeing in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to take astronauts to the International Space Station. The spacecraft will launch into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, just a few miles from the Starliner’s assembly factory at Kennedy Space Center.
By Steven Siceloff NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step down the path of transformation Monday, June 9, when The Boeing Company unveiled detailed plans to convert a shuttle processing facility into an assembly hub for the company’s next generation of crewed spacecraft.
Speaking inside the former engine shop of the spacious Orbiter Processing Facility-3 at Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said Boeing’s plans demonstrate that the only place in the nation to have launched people into orbit remains well-positioned to serve the future of space exploration, too.
BOEING PR — HOUSTON — The Boeing Company has announced that Christopher J. Ferguson, a retired U.S. Navy captain and former NASA astronaut, has been named director of Commercial Crew Interface in the company’s Space Exploration division, effective Dec. 16. Ferguson, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, will report to John Mulholland, Space Exploration vice president and program manager, Commercial Programs.
“Chris’ extraordinary managerial and spaceflight experience will be a significant asset to our team as we advance our development of the Commercial Crew Transportation System,” said Mulholland. “He will help us address all aspects of human spaceflight requirements, not only for trained NASA astronauts but also for a broad spectrum of people interested in accessing low Earth orbit.”